The First Marne Impressively Staged
I stumbled upon this game recently and I was always intrigued by World War I, but under most circumstances I was disappointed with the games on the subject. This however, is an exceptional game that is worth the time and effort.
The goal for the French is to take 3 out of 4 towns. Anything else is a German victory. In practice this is not easy.In a competition that was over in a few hours, the following events took place:
I was given the task of the French/BEF side, who need to press the attack to win. The question is how to do this properly without creating risks for Paris and holding the lines to attack German positions on The Grand Morin River and points east. It looked like the availability of reduced units was telling me something, so I took advantage of rules that allow for reduction of corps to Batallion sized units, which cost one Command Point per unit.
This allows for expanding the front along more lines than the German can (in general)effectively cover.
The game is a time conscious one and the French and BEF must cross the Marne and take out or force back German positions.
As the game progressed, the Germans were able to break through at Fere-Champenoise on the September 6th AM turn and press back French forces. I was never able to re-gain territory here but continued to retreat through hills and forests right back to Provins, but held the Grand Morin River line or I would have been overwhelmed The Germans have no real offensive objective, save to keep the French occupied, so this had the effect of narrowing the front quite a bit.
Alternately, the French forces and BEF near Paris had better opportunities. A Pontoon Bridge was established along the Oise river in two places that eventually led to a battle at Chantilly, this is key to flank the objective town of Villers-Cotterets, where a 'pushing' contest took place.during the September 8th AM and PM maneuvers.
The game tips imply that German Command points are scarce, but the rule that allows for Calvary Scouting with lucky die rolls made this a moot point.
As a result the Germans were able to mount counter attacks on a constant basis, and with the time requirement, I was only able to take Chateau Thierry and the aformentioned town, which is not good enough!
Reims and Chalons remained in German hands with not a French or BEF unit anywhere near them!
What most gamers with find fascinating about this game is the continual possibility of broken units returning, the command span of control, the power of calvary to gain Command points vital to alter battle odds, the weather factors, possible night moves, transfers of one unit every turn option and a strange "events" table with unusual things going on.
It is a concise study, perfectly sized, with just enough units and strategy to interest any student of the period.
Highly recommended! i hope next week different results will be obtained. I do think the game is balanced under this "first impression" session. My opponent, who ordinarily is not very skilled at handling troops, was competent enough in this struggle to understand what had to be done (Sitzkrieg?) and he was extemely lucky with those Calvary die rolls.
Michael Ziegler, posted on BoardGameGeek.com, October 18, 2012.